Ready…Aim…Shoot – with Clark Mishler


The time I spent researching travel to Alaska, really paid off when I came across a video by Clark Mishler on some tips and tutorials on photography.
Clark Mishler is one of the most sought after photographers in the US. He was a National Geographic photographer and his photos have been published in a whole range of books and magazines. Clark has traveled extensively and for the past 30 years he has been living in Anchorage, Alaska and exploring the beauty of the state. While searching for travel info about Alaska, I came across this exceptionally well-maintained site, The site is very informative, accurately updated, reliable and totally reader centric. We got every teeny bit of detail we were looking for. And my favorite part was a section called photo tips.

Alaska is a haven for nature lovers and photographers; and with all the SLRs, long-range lenses, camera gear and wear – “hunting and shooting” (pun intended) is what it is all about!

Visiting Alaska may not be a regular opportunity for people, given the distance, weather, cost and time required to spend in this beautiful state. So making maximum use of one’s photo and video cameras becomes imperative. And so, this section by Clark on photo tutorials on the website is extremely useful.

This 13 minute video called “Elements of Photography” features 20 “elements”.

According to Clark the use of these elements can really differentiate a good from a great photo. He explains each of the elements in simple words illustrating them eloquently with the help of his own photos.

I jotted down the points in a small paper and now regularly carry it in my camera bag. Not that I have to refer to it whenever I click 😉 but quickly running through it, during long journeys has been refreshing and has certainly made a difference.

The list of elements is given below. I have found that taking a look at the video is helpful in remembering their usage

1) angle of view                                          11) frames
2) use of backlight                                     12) silhouettes
3) diagonals                                               13) scale
4) motion                                                   14) negative space
5) s curves                                                 15) dark-light-Dark
6) patterns                                                 16) human element
7) selective focus                                       17) crop
8 ) contrasts                                               18) camera tilt
9) color                                                       19) rules of Thirds
10) stop Action                                           20) humor

Happy clicking!

References –


“The world is a looking glass and gives back to every man, the reflection of his own face.”


Reflections are mysteriously impounding; I remember spending hours during my childhood vacations, endlessly looking at the reflections of beautiful trees, busy birds, moving clouds and even my Self in the serene waters of the pond in our ancestral home.

I am just back from a holiday to Yellowstone National Park, WY. The sights were simply amazing. A dreamer’s paradise! It took me back to those days where the only thoughts that occupied my mind were the whys and hows of Nature and Creation.



We drove around the Park early one morning to snap some sunrise shots. Yellowstone’s lakes are very beautiful and sunrise was the best time to capture reflections on it’s calm and still waters. 


Reflections,  I decided that morning, will have to be the theme of my next post.





Macro magic




Someone once said, “All great things are only a number of small things that have carefully been collected together.”

When we take a picture of a mountain, a garden, a farm or the sea, we sometimes overlook the small flowers, dewdrops, rocks, pebbles, animals and insects that also, along with others make up these beautiful landscapes.

A macro photograph is a style that focuses completely on one subject. Say you are taking a flower; everything else other than the flower is left blurred. Meaning, the depth of field is narrow.

For a macro photograph, either the lens is used to the optimal to get a large image of the subject or the photographer simply gets as close to the subject as possible.

In my experience, a macro photo that I just clicked typically leaves me getting all philosophical, thinking about life, God, creation, existence, and so on.. 🙂


Nuts and bolts of Photography


When you click the right picture, do you feel a sudden stroke of ecstasy? Like something struck you in the head and you just can’t wait till you get back home, download the picture and see it on the big screen of your pc or even the TV? Well, I’ve had my moments of bliss, more often now than earlier.

I love photography and it is not until recently that I came to realize it. I have the least idea about its technical side and have so far been clicking only on instincts. I did put some effort into reading a document about ‘photography as a science’ and have so far managed to finish only three pages out of fifty eight. (science is just not my cuppa!) J

One day, a co-blogger and friend mentioned about four basic principles of photography.

He just gave me four phrases – golden hour, depth of field, soft lighting and high key/low key lighting and left it to me to find out what they meant. So I went to good ol’ wikipedia and found some very simple explanations. It made a lot of sense and I could relate it to my thought process while clicking.

I then went back to my collection and checked if some of my earlier photos reflected these concepts. So here for record and my own reference, I am putting down what I read, along with illustrations from some photos I clicked.

  • Golden Hour – The golden hour is defined as the first and last hour of sunlight during the day when a specific photographic effect is achieved with the quality of the light during these hours.



  • Key Lighting – Lighting for total illumination of the photo requires 3 points – key lighting, fill lighting and back lighting.

 In key lighting, low-key lighting is a style where the light is focused on certain parts of the object (which is being photographed) in such a way that it enhances the features that make up the outline of the object and leaves the rest in shadows.

Alternatively, high-key lighting is a style that has very little dark areas or shadows.

(I do not have photos to illustrate this; will update as and when I click some.)

Back lighting – Lighting that is used to illuminate the subject from the back. The camera and the light are facing each other.





When the backlight is very intense

(precisely 16 times more than the key light)

it produces a silhouette.





Fill lighting – Lighting that may be used to reduce the contrast of a scene and provide some illumination for the areas of the image that are in shadow.  


  • Soft lighting – Soft light refers to light that tends to “wrap” around objects, casting shadows with soft edges. The softness of the light depends mostly on the following two factors:

              o Distance- The closer the light source, the softer it becomes.

              o Size of light source- The larger the source, the softer it becomes.

The softness of a light source can also be determined by the angle between the illuminated object and the ‘length’ of the light source (the longest dimension that is perpendicular to the object being lit). The larger this angle is, the softer the light source.

  • Depth of field – This refers to the part of an image that appears sharper than the rest of it showing that the focus of the lens is on that particular portion of the image. This makes the rest of the image a bit blurred. Mathematically, the depth of field is determined by the distance between and camera and the object, the focal length of the lens and what is called the f-number of the lens. In digital cameras, the dof is determined after the image is made.





 Each of these fundas is a vast field of study in itself and cannot be mastered in a day. But understanding the basics adds so much more to the whole experience of clicking.

Thanks a ton to Twisted Dna and Wikipedia.



Photography — Art or science

This “art or science” way of putting it, i get from my business studies text book class 11. From that year on, till i finished my MBA, i have been reading this phrase at least one text book per year. “Is management a science or an art” “Is accounting a science or an art”. And if you say its both and state your own crappy reasons, lo, full marks!! See, i am already deviating from the topic. My commerce instincts are showing!

Now full marks to me, because photography is both a science and an art. I love photography. I know nothing about it as a science, (so i claim myself to know it as an art!) but I am in the process of learning. Lets go!